Somewhere around the year 1973 I discovered computer coding. My aunt worked as a data entry clerk, inserting cards into a machine, then “typing” so that the machine would punch holes in specific spots on each card. At that time in my life, as a project in Girl Guides, I used those “punch cards”, and stapled them together to form a Christmas wreath.
Fast forward to high school. My school offered a computer science course. We learned about writing code. As with most schools at the time though, there was not a single computer in the building. To see whether our code worked we had to follow a set of steps.
- First, write the code.
- Second, grab a stack of computer cards and, with a 2B pencil, fill in a series of bubbles that corresponded with each step in the code.
- Third, bundle all these carefully arranged cards with a rubber band and send them off to the Board of Education offices downtown (where they had an honest-to-goodness computer!)
- Fourth, (about a week later) take the returned cards (now bundled with a printout of the code that was on the cards), and “de-bug” your program. Return to step one, and repeat many, many, MANY times.
Hard to imagine this scenario from a 2015 perspective, I know, but that was coding circa 1980. A year later I was actually allowed to use the key-punch machine (Hurray! no more hand cramps from filling in bubbles!).
A couple of years later, while at university, I actually purchased a computer (Commodore 64, for the record) which could give me more immediate feedback.
Since that time, technology has moved light-years, and computers have been more and more a part of my daily life. Coding, sad to say, fell by the wayside. I’ve depended on programs written by others.
That’s about to change. It’s time for me to re-learn coding. Wish me luck!